Immigrant sexual citizenship: Intersectional templates among Mexican gay immigrants to the USA

Steven Epstein*, Héctor Carrillo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Existing literature on sexual citizenship has emphasized the sexuality-related claims of de jure citizens of nation-states, generally ignoring immigrants. Conversely, the literature on immigration rarely attends to the salience of sexual issues in understanding the social incorporation of migrants. This article seeks to fill the gap by theorizing and analyzing immigrant sexual citizenship. While some scholars of sexual citizenship have focused on the rights and recognition granted formally by the nation-state and others have stressed more diffuse, cultural perceptions of community and local belonging, we argue that the lived experiences of immigrant sexual citizenship call for multiscalar scrutiny of templates and practices of citizenship that bridge national policies with local connections. Analysis of ethnographic data from a study of 76 Mexican gay and bisexual male immigrants to San Diego, California, reveals the specific citizenship templates that these men encounter as they negotiate their intersecting social statuses as gay/bisexual and as immigrants (legal or undocumented); these include an 'asylum' template, a 'rights' template, and a 'local attachments' template. However, the complications of their intersecting identities constrain their capacity to claim immigrant sexual citizenship. The study underscores the importance of both intersectional and multiscalar approaches in research on citizenship as social practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)259-276
Number of pages18
JournalCitizenship Studies
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - 2014


  • asylum
  • cities
  • immigrant
  • rights
  • sexuality/sexual orientation
  • undocumented

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Political Science and International Relations


Dive into the research topics of 'Immigrant sexual citizenship: Intersectional templates among Mexican gay immigrants to the USA'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this